Govt may arrange immediate loan of Rs 2,500 Cr to keep BSNL afloat

This was lurking around the corner for the last six months.

Government-backed telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which has been accumulating losses for the last couple of financial years, has sought immediate fund infusion from the govt as it is struggling to run its operation.

Continuing with the BSNL operations would be nearly impossible without an immediate infusion of adequate equity, said Puran Chandra, senior general manager at BSNL’s corporate budget and banking division in a letter to telecom ministry.

The state of funds in a state-owned firm is so low that it even can’t manage salary liability for the ongoing month. At present, BSNL reportedly has around 13,000 crore outstanding liabilities.

Taking note of the concern, Govt has been talking with banks for an immediate term loan worth Rs 2,500 crore to keep them afloat. This will, if it goes through, take care of BSNL’s operating cost, bill payments, and vendor payments, as per the Business Standard report.

Meanwhile, the govt will draft detail revival plan soon.

Earlier in February, the govt expressed concern over its mounting losses. There were talks of reducing its aging workforce by over 50K, out of 174,312 workers it has employed, by reducing the retirement age to 58.

As per the suggestions by a senior committee of DoT, BSNL will save a total of Rs 13,895 crore over the next six years by implementing this. The govt had assured BSNL and MTNL of revival packages.

The state-owned telco had accumulated losses of Rs 31,287 crore at the end of 2017-18. The telecom income has come down consistent in last three fiscals. From Rs 32,411 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 27,818 crore in 2017-18, it has been on slipping downward.

In total PSUs losses, BSNL contributes about 25% alone. As per last TRAI report, BSNL, which has continued to lose customers, has managed to grab only 9% mobile or wireless market share.

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